Dell: Windows Vista Is Third-Party Software

Anthony Hecht from The Stranger Blog posted a recent chat with a Dell tech support rep, the highlight of which we’ve pasted below:

03/27/2007 01:18:23PM Agent: “Did you purchase your copy of windows from Dell?”

03/27/2007 01:19:12PM Anthony: “The copy of XP that is currently installed on the machine is from Dell. The copy of Vista is not.”

03/27/2007 01:20:40PM Agent: “Did you purchase your copy of windows from Dell?”

03/27/2007 01:21:22PM Anthony: “you already asked me that. The copy if Windows XP that is installed on the machine is from Dell. The copy of Windows Vista was purchased from Microsoft.”

03/27/2007 01:21:44PM Agent: “Okay thanks.”

03/27/2007 01:22:45PM Agent: “I will not be able to assist you with installing the third party software.”

The real question is: “Which of the above pictured individuals is in charge of Dell tech support?”—MEGHANN MARCO

Good Times With Dell [Stranger Blog] (Thanks, James!)
(Photo: peyri)


Edit Your Comment

  1. swvaboy says:

    If it is 3rd party software then why can I only install it on a Dell??

  2. warchild says:

    All computer manufacturers have this policy. They will only support the operating system that came installed on the computer. Nothing new here…

  3. After reading through the full chat transcript I noticed that Anthony could not boot from the windows vista cd. Using all the methods that he mentioned I concluded that there is a strong possibility that what was happening in this situation was that he may not have been striking a key at the ‘press any key to boot from cd . . . .’ prompt.

    That simple. I promise.

    As far as vista being third party software, isnt that kind of a no-shit statement?

    Microsoft makes windows vista. Dell makes Dell computers. Dont assume that I am backing up Dell just to back them up but the situation does seem a bit blown out of proportion.

    Pretend I have a new car and I want a new cd player in the car. I could purchase one from the manufacturer of the car or I could purchase one directly from the manufacturer of the cd player.

    If I purchase this device from the manufacturer of the cd player. Whom should I call for support?

    Does this logic make sense to anyone?

    Third Party (wikipedia) A third-party developer is a developer not directly tied to the primary product that a consumer is using. The primary product may be hardware or software.

    (*full disclosure – I currently offer support for Dell computers. I’m outsourced, but work for dell indirectly *)

  4. Dustbunny says:

    I just want to say that I have the exact same robot as in the pic, on my desk at work. No cat unfortunately. That is all. Carry on.

  5. deadhero says:

    Why would you not contact Microsoft? ….instead of Dell?

    and yes, Holden Caulfield, the car stereo thing makes the most sense to me.

  6. FLConsumer says:

    I wouldn’t help you load Vista on your computer either — it’s a total nightmare of DRM and poorly-thought-out code.

  7. I’m in rant mode here, only because I’m at work.

    “Hey, I just bought this computer here at Best Buy, and I noticed that you also sell the same model here at Circuit City. Think you could help me fix it Circuit City guy? You wont? Why the hell not?”

  8. unwritten07 says:

    I’ve had a Gateway computer for over 5 years now. I can’t say enough about how valuable their lifetime phone support has been to me. Their tech guys have helped me through dozens of problems with several “3rd party software” issues. Many of which were just plain ignorance on my part.

    The most recent call I made was a question I had about the anti-spy software provided by the phone company that provides my DSL.

    This guy could have pawned the question I had off on someone else by chanting:
    Did you purchase this software from Gateway?
    Did you purchase this software from Gateway?
    Did you purchase this software from Gateway?

    Instead he listened, looked something up online for me, then answered my question.


    Customer sevice at it’s best.

    And no, I don’t work for Gateway!

  9. knorby says:

    What if the guy was asking about installing some distro of linux… No one would expect Dell tech support to guide them through that. The third party software policy is reasonable. In order to guide someone through a phone install of anything, some a priori knowledge is needed. I am guessing that most tech support guys with actual knowledge (that is, beyond the ability to follow a computerized guide) would probably be able to figure out most of a Vista install, even without installing it previously; however, it is probably better to not make any assumptions and only do what is tried and true. The Dell phone tech support guys are not exactly experts anyway. It is a reasonable move to treat Vista like any other third-party software. The lack of obligation doesn’t really have much to do with it, or it least it is not the only reason.

  10. Vinny says:

    With all due respect to the guy writing in, Dell says this pretty clearly right in the recording you hear when you call in that they’ll give you help with any software or operating systems they sold you.

    If you need Vista support, and you didn’t get it from Dell, you have to call MS.

    Just the way it is…

  11. lemur says:

    Several commenters seem to have misunderstood what happened there.

    The guy called Dell because his machine would not boot from a DVD. That’s a hardware issue, not a software issue. The agent used the fact that it was a Vista DVD as an excuse to cut short the service call. If the agent had eliminated possible hardware problems, then perhaps the agent would have had a good reason to deny support. But that’s not what happened.

  12. TheUpMyAssPlayers says:

    I want that cat. It’s adorable!

  13. aka Cat says:

    lemur, it’s difficult to tell, but I don’t think this is a hardware issue. If the drive can boot from a CD, the only thing that would stop it from booting from a DVD is that it’s unable to read DVDs. The csr should have asked Anthony if he had any other DVDs, and whether the computer was able to read them.

    On a related tangent, I hate it when our customers call wanting help with something we don’t support. I hate even more that our boss’s boss expects us to act as an intermediary with the correct support department. Why should I be punished for the fact that the other support departments suck and the users don’t want to deal with them?

  14. zyphbear says:

    At one point I had worked for Gateway in one of their “Country” Stores and the same thing applied. Any version of Windows you didn’t get with the PC or bought through the company and had installed by the trained personnel (with the install fee) would be considered “3rd Party”. This included Windows in all versions. (just a note, the upgrade bought through the company would only carry a 90 day warranty.) You had 95, put 98 on the computer? It would be reloaded with 95 and THEN troubleshooted. Had 98 but upgraded to ME? (why people did that is still beyond me with all the issues with ME) Reloaded with 98.

    There WERE RARE exceptions that if you provided the documentation for your system with the proof of License (aka, the key) and downgrading you back to an older version could cause worse problems, it would be loaded via the network or a CD and just use that key, but it really had to be a big issue for that to happen. (happened about 1 in 50 computers).

    So as much as I personally feel bad for the guy, and wish the policy was different, I can agree it’s pretty much standard.

    Just a side note: screwing up any kind of OS install could cause more issues, which seemed to be the standard reason we were told to tell everyone. Though there may be drivers are not compatible with another version of the OS yet. (I knew someone who had ME installed from the factory, but the drivers were not compatible with a certian device with 2K nor 98, but was compatible with XP. Then another device that didn’t have available drivers for XP for almost a year after it was released. The computer manufacturer didn’t make it a priority to release an updated driver for 2K until almost 6 months before XP was finally released. Go Figure.)

  15. kenposan says:

    Sorry, dude, Dell is right. Going way back to my first PC (486), I have known that for software support you contact the software maker.

  16. yzerman says:

    I see it as a draw.

    Both sides are at the root of this problem here.

    If the issue was that his cd-rom won’t allow the “hit space bar to boot” to work then he should have said that and not call in about trying to upgrade to visit. The moment you make the point of your call the upgrade and not the issue you just gave the guy in tech support more information than he needed.

    As for dell, the tech guy needs to lighten up and listen to the customers story and actually try to understand what the real issue is.

    He wasn’t calling for help with vista or installing it he was calling for hardware issues.

    Hell just for fun why didn’t the guy try booting off his recovery cd to make sure it was a hardware issue or was he to cheap to spend the $10 for the cd when he ordered that dell?

    If thats the case he deserves what he got for being so damn cheap.

  17. Mark says:

    Mac OSX FTW!

  18. @yzerman:

    I agree that this is a draw; Dell is responsible only to ensure the hardware is working properly; Microsoft’s support group is responsible for problems caused by a faulty DVD-ROM of Windows. I don’t think Anthony has a real beef with Dell here.

    Of course, I prefer to get my computers from a company that also writes a killer operating system for the computer.

  19. CaptainRoin says:

    I agree with it being a draw. I also think that they might have helped him out a little instead of being jerks about it. I ordered Vista from dell (the “free” upgrade thingy) and got an actual M$ Vista install DVD, the same thing this guy bought somewhere else. There is a pretty good chance it was a hardware issue, i think even not hitting F12 or whatever is a hardware issue because the computer was not set up to automatically boot from CD/DVD.

    cliff notes: its a draw. and that’s a cute cat.

  20. MattyMatt says:

    RTFA. It turned out, it WAS a hardware problem — the instructions for booting from a DVD only flashed on the screen for a moment, so Anthony couldn’t figure out how to do it. The tech support definitely should’ve helped him with that.

    Also: note that a Microsoft employee quickly comments on the blog with some helpful advice. That’s pretty cool of him to do.

  21. royal72 says:

    “I understand the issue you are having with installing Vista, I will do all I can to resolve your issue in my scope of support.”

    hahahahahahahahahahahahaha… agent (rts shelia s), you are a fucking liar! you don’t have a clue, read from a script, and don’t care.

  22. ahecht says:

    **I’m the guy who wrote the original post.**

    For those who suggest I should have called Microsoft, and/or that Dell is correct in not supporting an OS I didn’t buy from them, I sure do disagree.

    The new OS was not yet installed, because I couldn’t boot from the media. This is a hardware, BIOS, or firmware issue, it has nothing to do with Windows, Vista or otherwise. As someone pointed out above, and I clarified in the comments to the original post, the problem was indeed the “press any key to boot from CD” message that went by too fast to be seen (replaced by Dell’s logo and URL, very helpful). I had to press the spacebar repeatedly through the boot process until I triggered it by chance.

    Sure it’s possible it was a faulty disc, but the point is they didn’t explore the perfectly reasonable possibility that it was a Dell problem, they just tried to find a way out of helping. It’s the primary goal of tech support scripts like this – not to fix a problem, but to make it someone else’s problem.

  23. crayonshinobi says:

    I second FLConsumer! The CSR at Dell was doing you a favor!

    Also, I’d like to 2nd unwritten07’s remarks about Gateway. On 2 separate occasions, besides speaking perfect English and being very polite, the Gateway reps went above and beyond the call of duty to assist me. They’ve even referred me to third party parts companies that still carried parts for their discontinued models, (Some things like the power supplies have proprietary designs).

    I decided I’d never buy a Dell when a hardrive on a newly purchased Dell at my office crashed. After the replacement drive arrived, I tried to install the software, but instead of a software disc, there was a cardboard disc with the words, “With your new Dell you don’t need software discs because your hardrive has an emergency recovery partition or you can use Windows XP’s System Restore.” Yeah…stupid me.

  24. I agree with you ahecht. I wish all technical support agents could look at your troubleshooting and realized that you were missing the press any key prompt. But you are right about the flogging. Most call centers are designed that way, especially if the issue is framed in a manner that causes the agent to feel it is out of scope.

    My snarky comments were directed to the headline which implied that it was a bad thing that dell considered vista third party software.

    Did you get the resolution from me? Or from somebody else?

  25. I hate to sound like a Dell bitch crayonshinobi, but Dell has actually fixed that problem. All systems started shipping with cd’s again after september of ’06.

    You have a point with the hard drives though. Dont tell anybody I agree that the hard drives ummm.. yeah.

  26. purpletreehouse says:

    You folks who had good Gateway support, were you high when you called or do you just have incredibly low expectations?

    I have 3 MACs now – and I L-O-V-E them all – because of Gateway and their total lack of support. Those folks could give Mother Teresa turretts! After endless hours of inept phone support (and I use the term “support” loosely), I brought my system to 3 different Gateway service locations to try and get the issues resolved. My tower was in the shop more often than a used Yugo and I swear it just did shelf time before it was released back into my custody each time – without ever being diagnosed – or fixed.

    I do not work for Dell, Gateway, or Apple, but I do run an L2 support desk. The main problem with most help desks is that folks just don’t LISTEN anymore. And, companies pay crap for help and provide them with 10 minutes of training and 50 lbs. of scripts. When you are fortunate enough to get a good tech, pray that they are not jaded by their own intelligence and treat you like an idiot.

    ahecht – the real problem here is that you didn’t just go out and buy a MAC. :o)

  27. kuipo says:

    ok this TOTALLY reminds me of something that happened to a coworker the other day, we we’re just sitting there, taking calls for comcast, when all of a sudden he started laughing, i turned over to him, and he muted the call and told me it was an old lady, who did not even had comcast internet, but called because she wanted to create an email acct, my friend being a good guy, walked the lady and helped her create a hotmail acct, it was really funny.

  28. Kupo says:

    Another Dell Tech agent here….

    First off – the 3rd party/scope of support thing. Any one of our calls could be monitored, and rated from the QA team for factors such as staying in scope, verifying account information, etc. Currently, Dell cares a heck of a lot more about getting a good email address from you than fixing your problem. We don’t follow that policy, we potentially lose our jobs. That policy includes not supporting any 3rd party hardware/software. Most agents, at least in my center, will at least give it shot. But if it looks like it will be an involved process (i.e. – take more than 5 minutes), you’ll get punted to the hardware/software vendor. They understand their product a heck of a lot more than we do. Even in the XPS support queue (where I am), we have massive amounts of scripts. We have some wiggle room, but a lot of techs will follow that script word for word out of fear of losing their job.

    Dell Vista vs. MS Vista – yes, there is in fact a difference. Just because the DVD may look the same doesn’t mean the information contained on it is the same. It’s not as big of a deal with notebooks, but desktops can be, mainly due to the SATA/RAID drive controllers. Dell OEM copies of Vista include the proper drivers on the DVD itself, drivers that are needed to even begin the install process.

    Not seeing the “press any key to boot from CD” message – That is a MS issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with Dell or the Dell hardware. Need proof? Pop in the Resource (drivers and utilities) CD. Boot from it. You get a menu asking if you want to boot from CD or HDD. The Windows setup images include the “press any key” part, and automatically switch to booting from the hard drive is there is no input from the keyboard. There is supposed to be a several second delay before that happens, but I’ve seen several copies of Vista that have less than a 1 second delay. THAT is an image issue, which is a MS problem.

    The way the agent handled the call – Anthony stated in his own blog that he cut the call short because he felt the call was going nowhere. Nearly every day I get a call from someone pissed that their brand new computer won’t copy movie DVDs. I inform them that that is out of scope, which usually results in the people immediately jumping down my throat. The ones who don’t quickly learn that it outside the scope because it is illegal (and grounds for instant termination if an agent is caught), but that I am more than happy to ensure that the CD/DVD burner is functioning properly.

    What is and is not covered under the service agreement is clearly stated in the paperwork that is included with every new Dell computer. It is not the fault of Dell or the tech support agent when the customer does not read it, and rather just assumes about what is covered (which usually results in the customer believing that anything and everything they could possibly dream up doing with the computer is covered).

  29. rudi says:

    1) “Press any key to boot from CD” is a CMOS issue, before the OS even loads. It’s asking if it should load the OS image from CD instead of HDD (or SSD if you’re rich enough). So Windows has not even kicked in yet. Your reference to troubleshooting with the Resources cd is pointless. Everyboot up through CMOS is the same. It’s branded with the CMOS bootup image from the manufacturer, whether its gateway, dell, or whatever, depending if they coded it that way.

    2) Even if it was ‘an MS issue” as you claim, then the offending MS issue would be Windows XP, since Windows Vista has not been installed yet. So then support should still be given to the consumer, right? Since that Windows XP was the original OEM version installed on the computer, fully supported by Dell per terms of support contract.

  30. betawind says:

    Rudi, are you kidding me?

    1) “”Press any key to boot from CD” is a CMOS issue, before the OS even loads.”?? That is *part* of the OS media itself! Boot an XP Pro CD and it will say “Press any key to boot from the CD”. Put an XP MCE (Media Center Edition) DVD (only comes on a DVD) and it will say “Press any key to boot from the CD or DVD” Take the Dell Resource CD as another example, as KUPO said you will get a Win98 boot menu asking to boot from either the CD or the HDD. Are you saying that if the CMOS happens to detect a particular CD it will throw up a win98 boot menu?

    2) How would the DVD having issues booting be an issue of the Windows XP partition currently on the system? I would *LOVE* to see your answer on that one. Take the HDD out and it will have the same result.

    Seriously, do your research before commenting.

  31. rudi says:

    Betawind, are you kidding us?

    1)Break into the CMOS settings before you load any OS image and you will find boot up choices in the menu to either load an OS image from network, the hard drive or a networked drive by whichever priority you assign. THAT is what we’re talking about here, the initial option upon boot to load an OS image from whichever source you want. That part, the CMOS/BIOS is what directs the box to the location of the intended boot image, whether it’s from the HDD, CD, DVD, or even a flash drive. Stop thinking OS and think before the OS kicks in. The OPTION TO BOOT FROM DISK DRIVE has nothing to do with windows (any version). Granted, there must be a bootable image in that location. But the option to point boot startup to that location (the whole point of this entire post, original included) belongs to the CMOS. It is CMOS feature, BEFORE the OS is loaded. The CMOS is installed by the manufacturer. So yes, if a CMOS will not let you boot from CD/DVD, it is/should be supported by the manufacturer. All of those examples you gave regarding OS installation discs are inconsequential. All inconsequential. Yes, they do provide you that ‘boot from CD rom” option, but what you’re actually looking at is an autorun menu that will run the option (shut down/reload) and make your box reload with whatever it has on that disk. Again, it is a feature of the CMOS to boot from the CD/DVD drive, or wherever you want to boot from. NOT WINDOWS!

    2) I did NOT say the issue was due to the Windows partition, in fact, that was what I was arguing against. I said “EVEN IF IT WAS”, playing devils advocate for those impaired enough to think the current old OS has actually loaded before the CMOS decides which image to load. IF IT WAS the due to Win system, then it wouldn’t be the one in the C drive, since that has not even loaded. which is the one Dell would be responsible for.

    Seriously, do your own research and most importantly, try to comprehend before commenting.

  32. rudi says:

    second paragraph got sent before proofing.

    IF IT WAS the due to Win OS system, then it wouldn’t be the one in the CD drive, since that has not even loaded since we’re not being given the option to boot from CD. So, if then it must be the OS system which can load, which would be the one on the HDD which is the one Dell would be responsible for. However all that is null and void, because the ISSUE is SUPPORT FOR CMOS, which lets you OPT to boot from non-HDD.

  33. rudi says:

    IF IT WAS the due to Win OS system, then it wouldn’t be the one in the CD drive, since that has not even loaded since we’re not being given the option to boot from CD. So, if then it must be the OS system which can load, which would be the one on the HDD which is the one Dell would be responsible for. However all that is null and void, because the ISSUE is SUPPORT FOR CMOS, which lets you OPT to boot from non-HDD.

  34. kool371 says:

    Dont take it wrong but I love dell computers but tech support is not so great. Most of the time when I would call tech support I would get some one with a forgne accent and hard to sometimes understand. This can be frustrating. There were a couple times when I had my power supply fail. The 2nd time it failed and I knew this b/c everything was the same as it was when it went the 1st time and the fact I did all the same trouble shooting multipl times that the tech had me do the 1st time. The 2nd time the tech wanted me to walk through the trouble shooting process even though I told them I aready did and knew it was the supply so I just acted like I was b/c I was not about to go throgh all that when I did it on my own. and then ther were other times I tried to explain something and the tech seemed to have a hard time understanding what I was saying I feel that it was that they could not understand english that great.

  35. kool371 says:

    its as if they out souce(d) their tech suport outside of the US and I feel that greatly affects tech support big time